How to harvest pumpkins, kumara and Borlotti beans

Harvesting and storing pumpkins
  • When you harvest your pumpkins make sure you have a good strong stem left on it. If the pumpkin doesn’t have a stem, it’s the first place rot will set in.
  • Next we add a large handful or about a cup of baking soda to a bucket of water. Stir it in, making sure it’s all dissolved. Then dip each pumpkin in the solution, immersing each pumpkin thoroughly. This solution alkalises the skin of the pumpkin, and helps to keep it from rotting.
  • Rob then places them up on the north-facing roof of his shed which is sloping so rain will run off. This bakes the skin of the pumpkin making it hard and more resistant to disease and rot. Make sure the pumpkins don’t touch each other. Leave them here for about 10 days. It’s not a good idea to leave them on the soil they grew in as it’s damp and would increase the likelihood of rotting.
  • When storing, place pumpkins place on a bed of straw or woodchips, something that cushions them from a hard surface. And again, make sure they’re not touching each other.
  • Buttercup will store for 3-4 months, and pumpkins like Whangaparaoa Crown, Ironbark and Butternut will last for 8-9 months.
Harvesting kumara
  • Kumara take almost 3 times as long to mature as potatoes do. We’re going to eat the kumara we harvest this week immediately, but if we were going to store them, we would leave them on the soil in the sunshine (choose a settled period of weather when you dig them up) for 2-3 days. Unlike potatoes, kumara don’t deteriorate with the sun on them.
  • Use a fork to avoid slicing through good kumara.
  • Remove the green tops. You may find the odd kumara comes out with that.
  • There’s no anti-sprouting powder on these kumara, so you can happily give them a light scrub to remove dirt and cook them with the skins on.
  • Dig deeply and loosen the soil. Some will come out with the fork. Others you’ll have to dig for with your hands.
  • Kumara are such a valuable plant. From only one of these kumara we dig out, we’ll be able to grow 50 or 60 more plants in the springtime. And they’re more resistant to pests and diseases than many other veges.
Harvesting and storing our borlotti beans
  • Borlotti beans are shell-out beans which means we eat the beans that are inside the case. We eat them dried and they’re great for adding to soups and stews.
  • After picking, pop them into plastic bags and place in your freezer for 3-5 days. This kills off any traces of bean weevil. Then lay them out in a single layer on newspaper, and leave them for about a month. After that shell them, and store in a dry cupboard.
Hilling up leeks
  • We planted our leeks about a month ago, and Rob has just hilled them up. That means pushing soil from the central hill into the trenches to encourage good long white stems.


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes